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Boycotting the Bay Buzz

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by
After much consideration and soul-searching, I am going to boycott the Bay Buzz blog on The St. Petersbug Times website.

That’s right, I am going cold turkey on The Bay Buzz blog. The guy who can make an article go from 2 comments to 45 is commenting no more.

And not for the reasons you might think. I am not giving up on the Bay Buzz because of the articles that are written (or not written, as the case may be). I think the Bay Buzz blog coverage is inconsistent at best, sloppy at its worst. Not because of the reporters, per se, but because of the editorial decisions that drive the coverage. Does anyone actually know Heather Urquides, the editor of the Bay Buzz blog? I’ve been in this town for 32 years and I have never seen her. I had lunch at Atwater’s yesterday and asked several ministers, a state representative and two different campaign staffers if they had ever heard of Urquides. No one. I had coffee at Atlanta Bread Company and asked two neighborhood presidents, a city council member and another campaign staffer if they had ever heard of Urquides. No one. At least a dozen people, all of whom help lead or govern this city and they have never met of heard of the editor that oversees the Bay Buzz blog and the reporters who post there. The fate of a city lies partially in the hands of someone unknown to many of us. That’s not right. But that’s not why I am giving up the Bay Buzz blog.

I am not giving up the Bay Buzz blog because I disagree with the perspective often offered by the writers on the Bay Buzz blog. I disagree with always linking my name or any of my colleagues’ names to a singular past story as if one moment can define a person. I stole some campaign money once. I was punished for it. I’ve come back from that incident. But that’s not who I am. Offer a broader view.

I am not giving up the BB because of what is written about me, although no one would be surprised by my decision if that was the reason. The libelous, offensive comments that are posted by anonymous writers are so hurtful that I would be lying if I said they did not affect me. There are also several pricks on there who do nothing but re-post my mugshot from when I am was in trouble. And there are the douchebags, like Jim Donnelon, on there who do nothing but tear everyone down. And that’s his and their right, but I would never sit next to them at a bar. I would never have them over to my house. They’re losers. They’re dorks. I would beat the shit out of them, in a heartbeat, if there were no repercussions. I don’t want to be associated with anonymous dorks.

Because that is why I will no longer post on the Bay Buzz blog. Here is this great institution, the St. Petersburg Times. A newspaper I grew up admiring. There were moments in my youth when my proudest achievement was seeing one of my letters-to-the-editor in print. I subscribed to the Times when I went to FSU. I read it online everyday while I was in New York or overseas. But it is becoming a disgrace.

It is a cunt of a newspaper. An old lady drunk on its own influence, leaning on the memories of its better days. And the Bay Buzz blog is just one of its worst features. Not the coverage, not the writing, but to allow anonymous commentary on the most important issues facing a city, thereby giving the commenter the imprimatur of my once beloved newspaper, is the worst form of journalism. It will not be long before someone’s life is damaged or even taken because of what is said, mostly in anonymity, by the posters on the Bay Buzz and Buzz blogs. A friend of mine in politics has already lost his job because of what was said about him and his boss (although I blame his boss as much for not defending him against what was said). And yet, the editors of these blogs continue to allow anonymous posters to write libelous, offensive comments about not just me, but Charlie Crist’s sexuality and Jeb Bush’s children and Rick Baker’s wife and so on and so on.

God forbid, but unfortunately, a time will come, just as when the man killed his wife because she changed her marital status on her Facebook profile, when someone is going to say the wrong thing about the wrong person. And all hell is going to break loose.

Except I am no longer going to be part of it. Eliminate anonymous posting — now.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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